In Week 2, the Jets couldn't hold an 18-point lead in a loss at Green Bay. On Monday night at MetLife Stadium, they found themselves trailing Chicago by two touchdowns almost before the "Monday Night Football" theme song ended.
"It's tough," cornerback Antonio Allen said. "We tried to do it vice-versa, and we still came out with the 'L.' "
A pick-6 thrown by Jets quarterback Geno Smith on the first possession and a controversial pass-interference penalty on cornerback Darrin Walls put the Jets in a hole they couldn't climb out of in a 27-19 loss to the Bears.
If not for those two plays, the Jets' defense had a right to believe it kept Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler and wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery under control for the majority of the game.
But as Allen said: "We played a decent game. But NFL games are close, and we didn't put up enough points and get enough stops to win."
Of course, there was nothing the Jets' defense could do about the interception return for a TD to start the game. Then a muffed punt by rookie Jalen Saunders set up the Bears at the Jets' 40-yard line. Cutler immediately went deep to Jeffery, but the ball was underthrown. Walls came back to it and got a hand on the ball in front of Jeffery, but the flag came out and gave the Bears a first down at the 7-yard line, leading to a TD pass of that length to tight end Martellus Bennett for a 14-0 lead.
"To me, I thought I had perfect position," Walls said. "If anything, that was offensive pass interference. I tried to go up for the ball, but [Jeffery] was holding my hand."
It was a tough start, but the defense kept the Jets in the game from that point and gave them a chance to tie right to the end. Marshall was targeted six times by Cutler but was held to one catch for 6 yards while mainly being covered by Walls. Jeffery had impressive numbers with eight catches for 105 yards, but his night really boiled down to two key catches.
Jeffery caught a 42-yard pass against Allen, his former college teammate at South Carolina, on the Bears' opening drive of the second half. That led to a 13-yard TD pass by Cutler to a wide-open Bennett for a 24-13 lead. Clearly, sixth defensive back Phillip Adams was out of position on the play.
"It was a communication deal," Adams said. "I never want to let that happen again. I have to be aware of everything . . . Our aim was to keep everything in front of us, and for the most part, we kept them contained."
But the Jets still allowed the Bears to convert 7 of 15 third-down plays, including two big ones on a 12-play drive lasting 6:42 for the final field goal plus the Bears' two touchdown passes. Jeffery caught a third-and-9 pass for 13 yards, and Matt Forte's 8-yard third-down run kept the drive going.
"When the game is this close, you have to get off the field on third down," Walls said. "We gave up two TDs in the red zone on third down."